André Ruiter Stereoscopy

Duboscq-Soleil Stereoscope

January 6, 2021
Duboscq-Soleil Stereoscope - B&W photographer and collector of antique photographica
A rare handheld stereoscope made by the French manufacturer Duboscq-Soleil, one of the pioneers in stereoscopy history.

Jules Duboscq was apprenticed in 1834 by the French optician Jean-Baptiste François Soleil. In 1839 he married one of Soleil's daughters and he took on the name Duboscq-Soleil. He bought the instrument workshop after Soleil's retirement in 1849.

David Brewster invented the lenticular stereoscope in 1849, but was unable to interest a British manufacturer to make stereoscopes based on his design. He took his prototype to Paris and met Duboscq, who immediately recognised the opportunities and started producing stereoscopes and provided stereo daguerreotypes for the new devices.

During the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the Crystal Palace in London, Queen Victoria looked through the lenses of a stereoscope made by Duboscq-Soleil. She enjoyed the viewing experience and her enthusiasm sparked the first stereography boom that lasted until 1870.

During the same exhibition Duboscq was introduced to the glass magic lantern slides of the American Langenheim brothers. His photographer Claude-Marie Ferrier came over from Paris to study the images and it inspired him to make glass stereoviews based on albumen-on-glass negatives and diapositives. It was the start of an era of high-quality glass stereoviews that became a French specialty.

Duboscq-Soleil Stereoscope

This lemon-tree wood stereoscope dates probabely from the 1850s and is special for two reasons. First, the letters DS are engraved in the wood, which refers to Duboscq-Soleil. Many stereoscopes don't contain any reference to the maker and this reference to the first manufacturer of stereoscopes makes it a real collector's item. Second, the device contains a slide-out tray in which the stereoviews can be placed. This is remarkable because most handheld viewers have a simple slot where the slide is pushed into.

The stereo viewer has a lid on top that can be opened to illuminate stereo daguerreotypes. The bottom contains a frosted glass to illuminate glass stereoviews and the front panel with the lenses can be opened. There is no central divider inside and when looking in the viewer, three images are displayed.